Oscar Pistorius granted parole, to leave prison nearly 11 years after murdering girlfriend

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South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius

Stephane de Sakutin | AFP | Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius, the disgraced South African Paralympian who murdered his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 10 years ago, was granted parole at a hearing on Friday and will be released.

A double amputee sprinter known as the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs, Pistorius, 37, was convicted of fatally shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times through a locked bathroom door at his home in Pretoria in 2013.

Pistorius was told at a hearing in Pretoria, the administrative capital where he has been held, that he will be released on Jan. 5, 2024.

A model and law graduate, Steenkamp was 29. Tania Koen, a lawyer who has represented the Steenkamps throughout the parole process and Pistorius’ appeals, confirmed to NBC News that parole was granted.

Pistorius was denied parole at a hearing in March after a judge ruled that, despite expectations that it would be granted, he had not served the minimum time needed to qualify for parole. The judge in that hearing said he wouldn’t be considered for parole until August 2024.

The 2014 trial attracted global attention as the details of Steenkamp’s death were beamed around the world. It immediately ended the career of Pistorius, then perhaps the world’s most high-profile disabled athlete, who made history by competing in an able-bodied field at the Olympics.  

Pistorius claimed he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar and shot her in error. As a condition of the parole process, Pistorius met with Steenkamp’s father, Barry, in June 2022. Her family opposed his release because they reject Pistorius’ account of their daughter’s killing.

As Pistorius has not yet served his full sentence of 13 years and five months, he will likely be forced to wear an electronic security tag and be banned from leaving Gauteng Province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Originally, Pistorius was sentenced to six years in jail for murder, but prosecutors then appealed what they called a “shockingly lenient” punishment and the sentence was increased.

Born with a congenital condition that led to both his legs being amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, Pistorius became a successful athlete, leading out the South African team at the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. Days later he would become the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics.

The 2014 trial heard that Pistorius had a gun with him “all the time,” including on his bedside table while he slept. He told the court that he lived in fear of a home invasion and said he had been followed, shot at and hi-jacked. When he shot Steenkamp he had assumed it was a burglar, he said. 

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